tv BBC World News PBS September 7, 2010 5:30pm-6:00pm EDT
what can we do for you? >> and now "bbc world news." >> in the past couple of decades, internet use has spread across the planet, invading every aspect of life. in countries like south korea, going online seems to have become a necessity. >> [speaking korean] >> usually, i go online as soon as i wake up. on average, i use the internet for about 6 hours a day. >> in a unique experiment, the bbc has removed internet access from 2 families for a week, in this the most wired nation on earth. >> in other parts of the world, the digital superhighway still hasn't reached its destination. how many people here actually know what the internet is? [indistinct chattering] >> internet? anybody? now, though, we're going to be providing internet access
to this village in northern nigeria. so, what happens when we turn the internet on here? >> and off here? [indistinct chattering] >> it's not exactly the information superhighway. [bleating] welcome to the village of gitata, 2 1/2 hours north of the nigerian capital abuja. what strikes you as you arrive in gitata is the fact that it seems so disconnected from even the rest of the country. it's not part of the national electricity grid, so most of the people here get their information through battery-powered radios. only a few of them even have mobile phones. i'm gonna give 2 high-speed internet-enabled mobile phones to 2 individuals
in this community and find out how that changes their lives and the lives of the people in gitata. [drum solo playing] the brave new world of broadband has barely penetrated this community. for most of the residents here, the internet is a complete mystery... though english premiership football seems to be surprisingly familiar. who's the top striker in chelsea right now? >> eh? >> the top goal scorer for chelsea? >> drogba. >> drogba. >> yeah. >> ok, so the man knows his football, at least. but do you know what the internet is? >> no. >> internet--have you ever heard of internet before? >> no. >> [speaking native language] >> does she know what the internet is? >> [speaking native language] >> well, i don't have any idea what the internet is about. >> have you heard of the internet? >> yes, i have a little knowledge about the internet. i do go to the internet in order to get information.
>> ok. >> i mean, i got to--i mean, what is happening in the world. >> how far away do you have to go to get access to the internet? >> i have to go as far as tukevi. >> tukevi--how many kilometers is that? >> roughly 52 kilometers. >> 52 kilometers away before you can get access to the internet. >> before i can get access. >> so, we have met a gentleman who knows about the internet, knows its value. those who understand it realize that it's something about information. but the key issue in a place like gitata is the lack of access. [indistinct chattering] >> the bbc plans to do something about that. >> thank you very much. >> thank you very much. i'm visiting the house of the chief, turaki danladi rabo... >> [speaking native language] >> who's holding a village meeting to decide who will take possession of our internet-enabled mobile phones. i can see see 2 gentlemen walking out. it looks like a decision has been made as to who will hold the phones. hello,
how are you? what's your name? >> i am nicholas madaki. >> nicholas. congratulations. what's your name? >> moses mamman maisuari. >> moses. congratulations. well done. well done. well done. well done. you're representing gitata for the bbc. so, tell me, how does it feel? >> very exciting. >> you're very excited. that's for you, nicholas. moses, that's for you. >> thank you. >> it will a journey of discovery for them and for the village of gitata... [flutes and drums playing] excuse enough for a bit of a party, with everyone dancing. but if internet access is a novelty here, there are many places in the world where it's a matter of simply pressing a button. what would happen in one of those communities if some people were suddenly disconnected? >> well, here in seoul, south korea, we're about to find out. this country boasts the fastest broadband speeds in the world, and more than 95% of
homes here have a broadband connection. so, no wonder, then, it's sometimes described as the most wired place on the planet. this sprawling high-speed broadband megacity is populated not so much by citizens but by netizens... [mouse clicks] plugged into a streaming torrent of information which is changing society at amazing speed. so, we've set ourselves a pretty tough task. targeting just one apartment block in central seoul containing homes for more than 100 south korean families, can we find anyone who will be prepared to go offline for a week and help us find out whether the internet here has become an essential part of modern living? [indistinct chattering]
with the help of some posters we've designed, my translator eunice and i are off to see if there are any takers. >> [speaking korean] >> excellent. somebody's in. >> [speaking korean] >> [speaking korean] >> first impressions aren't too promising. well, that looks like it's another refusal--people telling us they're simply too busy or the internet is too crucial to their daily lives to take part. eventually, we find 2 families who agree to cut the umbilical cord for a few days. first, meet the kims.
the 2 boys are classic products of the internet generation. for them, being disconnected is almost unimaginable. >> [speaking korean] >> these days, i go on the internet as soon as i wake up. i'm developing my own home page, and there's things i need to find out on the net. sometimes, i work online all day, past sunset. on average, i probably use it for about 6 hours a day. >> [speaking korean] >> i use the internet for about 5 hours a day, mostly playing computer games. if i can't do that, i might get cravings. >> here we go, then. this is switch-off day, um, one week without the internet, starting from now. how do you feel? what are your hopes and fears looking ahead to this week? >> [speaking korean] >> i stay in touch by checking the news on the internet, so i'm kind of worried about the disconnection. my second son
is very reliant on it. he uses it for his programming, and he's trying to start a business. so, i'm concerned about the troubles he might face. >> [speaking korean] >> i think the internet helps us save so much time. we can look things up so easily nowadays. but one thing i'm really worried about is that i don't know what kind of friends my children are making over the internet-- all these conversations taking place online. [all speaking korean] >> enter the man from korea telecom, the internet service provider, to come and unplug the kims. so, that's it. the deed is done. all lifelines to the online world have been severed for the time being. we'll be back to see how the family survives later. our other family willing to log off for a week are the yangs.
most of the television channels that the family enjoy won't be available for the next few days. life for the yangs is going to be tough. so, this is it, then--the modem, without which this house becomes an internet-free zone. so, let's give it to mr. song from korea telecom to take away with him. thank you very much, mr. song. and let's ask the yang family how they're going to cope without it. >> [speaking korean] >> i think it'll be inconvenient. for instance, i'll have to go to the bank in person. but it should be an interesting experience and a good opportunity for us. >> who do you think's gonna miss it the most? >> [speaking korean] >> i reckon my wife will miss it the most. she uses it for surfing for information and visiting online sites to chat to friends.
>> over the next week in an internet-free world, the experiences of the yangs and the kims will give us a good idea of how dependent south korean society has become on a broadband connection to the outside world. [african music playing] >> the village of gitata in the nigerian state of nasarawa has been experiencing something of an upheaval. we've given 2 men here a hotline to the rest of the world in the form of internet-enabled mobile phones. this makes them part of a select online group in africa, where internet penetration is still under 7%, just a quarter of the global average. for nicholas, a farmer of yams and cassava, it's opened up a whole new world.
>> my brain was about to be rusted in the computer experience. in fact, it was a moment of joy to me. because i have this mobile phone, it give me more knowledge. this is my wife, my first lady. i browse informations about barack obama. everybody know that this man is africa. in our country today, we doesn't have leaders like that. [indistinct chattering] [child giggles] >> moses, a secondary school teacher, has also discovered the value of a new source of knowledge in a place where water and other resources are scarce and information is limited. >> 2 elders came to me. they were asking me about how they can improve their farming activities, if i can access any information in a website to tell them about improved crops,
fertilizer that they can apply to improve their crops. is this going to cost you... >> despite some connectivity problems with actually getting a service from the internet provider, nicholas and moses are keenly embracing all that their new phones have to offer. >> what is an email? >> that's what i don't know. can you help me? >> we'll be back later to see how the 2 men get on with the joys and the frustrations of the internet. >> 7,000 miles away in seoul, south korea, the 2 families we've asked to live without the internet for a week have been finding it a struggle. >> [speaking korean] >> as a student at a specialist i.t. school, 16-year-old kim seung-yeon is having to make some radical lifestyle changes. fortunately, he has an understanding teacher.
>> [speaking korean] >> please finish these assignments at home in your own time and email it to me. seung-yeon, as you don't have the internet this week, handwrite it and then give it to me. >> how's it going? >> um, some annoying things. it's very annoying, because finding some information or getting some news or information from internet, i can't do that. so, uh, it's very hard time for me. [all speaking korean] [laughter] >> seung-yeon's mother has also found it tough. she's the moderator of an internet forum for school mums. they're meeting here face-to-face. but normally, they'd be doing this kind of networking in cyberspace. belonging to a group or a club is a very popular thing in korea, which perhaps explains why social networking sites were invented here first.
so, what's it like trying to get by without this very efficient way of keeping in touch? >> [speaking korean] >> it's been very inconvenient. for our internet forum, i normally post regular messages and notices to other parents. now i have to ring or text them all in turn. the upside is that my elder son has been going to bed early. now he can't play games online all night-- and in turn, waking up early. >> the kim household has certainly been transformed this week. they've been rediscovering old skills and spending more time with each other and the neighbors. even the dog seems happier. >> [speaking korean] >> the positive side has been having more time to talk to each other. it's been good for my eldest son, who's been
showing signs of internet addiction, to realize the importance of moderation. >> [speaking korean] >> i've hardly played games at all this week. when i've met up with my friends, we've been shooting pool or doing karaoke or just hanging out. >> the other family taking part in our experiment has struggled to navigate the complexities of modern-day career without the internet. youm jung-a, who has had to go out to the supermarket more this week, normally does at least 70% of her shopping online--not unusual in a country where the total e-commerce market is worth over 600 billion u.s. dollars. she gives the experience a mixed verdict. >> [speaking korean] >> i've been quite bored without the internet. surfing the web's one of my hobbies. and i feel like the power of knowing things has been taken away from me. but i have been able to spend more time with the children and
the neighbors. and the children have spent more time out of the house. [beeping] >> well, it was only an experiment, and it's now time for our families to go back to all the advantages and disadvantages of life online. so, here we are, then, day 7-- reconnection day. and here's the nice mr. song from korea telecom again. good to see you, mr. song. let's go and put these people out of their misery. >> yeah. [all speaking korean] >> first to be switched back on are the kims. although they feel they've learned a lot from their time offline, they balk at the idea of living without the internet for good. >> [inhales sharply] [speaking korean] >> i think a week has been quite enough for me. but if i was asked to do it again to show people the good sides of living without the web, i would volunteer. >> [speaking korean] >> [speaking korean] >> it's just like, if you lived a week without electricity, the house would become a
complete mess. so, i would say a polite, "no, thank you" to being unplugged ever again. >> [laughs] [all speaking korean] >> and as the yangs prepare to return to their normal wired-up world, they're considering a permanent change in the way the household operates. >> [speaking korean] >> from now on, i think we should have rules-- rules on how much time we can spend a day on the net. let's say 30 minutes a day. >> really? >> what do you think we should do? >> we should have 5 hours. >> no way. >> 6 hours. then an hour a day. >> only an hour a day. >> it's an hour between the two of you--one hour in total. >> no, no. >> everyone can have 30 minutes each--me, your brother, and you. >> we'll have an hour each, and mum and dad can have 30 minutes each. >> yes, sir. that's fair. >> the experiment with our brave south korean volunteers have taken part in has showed how,
for good and for ill, the internet has become such an integral part of so many aspects of daily life here-- leisure, education, shopping, and socializing. let's see if in a few brief weeks it has begun to make the same sort of impact on the villages of gitata in nigeria. >> it certainly has. >> i was thinking as if i was alone. but now i found myself in the midst of people. there is no difference between the city and the village now, heh, with this present of mobile phone. anything you get in america, i will get it in gitata. >> one major problem has developed, though. there's forecast to be 1 1/2 billion new internet users in the next 2-3 years, double the current total. most of those will be
in the developing world where, as for the villagers here, network providers often demand payment to get into websites. and there's the other cost of getting the mobile phones recharged. so, moses, tell me. how much does it cost for you to get access to the internet? >> it costs me only 500 naira to get access to internet in gitata. >> 500 naira. we're talking roughly $5.00. is that the same for you? >> yes. it's the same because we can't get the charge card very cheap here. it's very costly in gitata. >> and you'd consider $5.00 to be very expensive for someone like you. >> yes. is very, very expensive. >> but let's look for a shop where we can get some recharge credit, and then we'll take it from there. >> ok. >> hello. please, do you have mtn recharge credit? how does it make you feel that in the rich world, the internet is so cheap, but in the poor world, in developing countries, it's so expensive? >> well, i feel very sorry for
the developing countries. since the internet in the developed country is at the subsidized rate, but in the developing country is so expensive that the poor man that cannot have access to internet. and if you have access to internet, you get so many information. and information is power. [drums playing] >> if our families in south korea have discovered from this whole experiment that there are compensations to an internet-free life, the experience of the people of gitata has reinforced the enormous benefits to be had from being connected online to the rest of the world, if they can afford it. >> i have experienced it. i enjoy it. i like it. i get so many informations. my people are connected to part of the world. and if this mobile phone will not--i will not have access to this, i will feel as if i'm not
part of this world. >> so, the internet has changed your life. >> changed, really, really changed my life. >> unfortunately, we've come to the end of this project. >> yes. >> but before i go, i do have some good news for you. and the good news is, we want gitata to stay connected through nicholas and moses. >> thank you. >> so, we're going to have you keep those mobile phones. >> all right. >> but there's one condition. you have to keep in touch with us. >> all right. >> all right. >> we promise-- >> you promise to keep in touch. >> yes. >> send me an email every now and then, and enjoy the rest of the world. >> thank you. yes. [flutes and drums playing] [indistinct chattering] >> hello and welcome. >> see the news unfold.
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